As you move along in your job/internship search, here are four things that you should make sure to AVOID as you move along with this process. Adding these to the 5 items I mentioned in my prior article to keep in mind during your search will hopefully lead you to multiple options and allow you to choose between offers.
#1 Trashing a prior boss/employer
I get it. Your prior supervisor was a selfish jerk who didn’t care if his demands drove you to a nervous breakdown, miss a friend’s wedding, or feel guilty about using your vacation days. Or maybe the whole office culture was one where you were expected to give over any of your individual praise to your power-hungry boss and give him all of the credit.
Under such conditions, it’s no surprise that you want to leave for a better situation. Regardless, harping on this issue as you search for a new role can come off looking petty and paint you in a bad light. Instead, focus on the positives or ideals that you want to move towards that has led you to on this current search. Pick two or three traits that comprise an ideal situation/role that you want to land and use those as the driving force in your search. Make it more about wanting to move TOWARDS something positive than AWAY from something negative.
#2 Thinking one size fits all
A mechanical engineer is a mechanical engineer, right? Actually, no. The title of the roles to which you are applying may be similar, but each company & project set will have different needs.
Instead of sending out the same resume to every application, you should take some time to at least minimally update your resume and profile and gear them towards the more specific role(s) you want to achieve. First, you should be using the job requirement list as a way to tailor your resume (and cover letter, as applicable) to this specific role. Second, you should try and use your network to get some guidance on the skills & experience that often translate to success in that role.
Once you have some of this insight, you’ll want to frame & highlight your experience in a manner that lets the perspective employer see you as a good match for the role.
#3 Relying too heavily on legacy, school, or specific contact
The fact that I went to engineering school with your mother, will definitely get you a better shot at me giving your resume a better look and possibly bringing you in for an interview. Similarly, I (like many others) have an appreciation for what I gained from my engineering school and will likely want to help others that have gone there as well.
However, don’t for a second think that this will lead to an automatic offer. You may get to the next step more easily than others without these connection points, but you still need to be a good fit for the role as an employer rarely wants to compromise their office talent just to help someone out.
In short, using connection points in your networking outreach is a great way to get a chance. However, beyond getting a chance to present yourself, nothing is guaranteed. So bring your A-game and SHOW THEM why you are a great fit for this role.
#4 Wasting time applying to every open role
Aside from those annoying ones that make you enter every detail into its own cell and then still submit your resume, online applications are pretty easy. So it is no wonder that many of the younger engineers I work with apply to every single one that crosses their path. At face value, this is not a bad plan since you never know and the investment of time is not all that significant. So why not just apply to them all?
Here’s why I think this is a bad idea. First, this is an issue of quality versus quantity. I believe you are better off using the time you have available to submit fewer applications, but take the time to really make sure that they are done to a higher level of detail. This means taking the extra time to dig into the job requirements and really hammer home the point that you are a good fit. Second, applying to lots of jobs haphazardly can give you a false sense of security that you have “done enough” to find a job. In reality, many of those roles are likely not ones you will realistically land and won’t move you forward towards your employment goals.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to creating your network?
I have a networking course that includes live sessions with practical & actionable advice on developing your network.
These are relatively small groups and you will gain a lot of one on one time with me.
Find out more about the course as well as the FAQ here, Up Your Engineering Networking!
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